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Windows 7: Upgrade advice: HD7870Ghz, HD7850 or HD7970?


16 Jan 2013   #1
MonkeyFunkR

Windows 7 Premium x64
 
 
Upgrade advice: HD7870Ghz, HD7850 or HD7970?

I'm looking for some opinions and advice on the subject mentioned graphics cards. PC upgrades are new to me and I'm not sure which would be the best card for my system and was hoping to get some advice from you knowledgeable folks.

My rig is an i7 920 (2.66Ghz) with 12GB Ram and I'm currently using a HD5870. My rig is mostly used for gaming: XCom: Enemy Unknown, Skyrim and Far Cry 3. I presently run Skyrim and Far Cry 3 at 1920x1200 resolution on High settings but I've noticed that some games releasing this year will be rather taxing on the 5870. Plus it would be nice to run the above mentioned games at a higher quality.

I've narrowed things down to the HD7870Ghz, the HD7850 and the HD7970. I meet the system requirements on all cards, I'm unsure whether or not the cards will physically fit in my rig, but I've heard that the cards aren't that much bigger than the 5870. I've also heard that the newer cards don't get as hot as the 5870.

So experts, which card would best suit my needs? Or are they all relatively comparable?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jan 2013   #2
essenbe
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 X64 (Windows 10, 8.1, Linux Mint, Windows XP and others in VM)
 
 

1st thing is what PSU do you have and will it handle the power requirements of the cards. Then it comes down to what you're willing to spend and what you want. I don't have any of them, but the number tells which is the best. The 7970 is the fastest of the bunch. Maybe this will help, Passmark ratings. But, be sure to check the PSU ratings for the wattage as well as amps. If you have multiple rails, how much on each rail?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jan 2013   #3
bobkn

Windows 7 Pro X64 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by essenbe View Post
1st thing is what PSU do you have and will it handle the power requirements of the cards. Then it comes down to what you're willing to spend and what you want. I don't have any of them, but the number tells which is the best. The 7970 is the fastest of the bunch. Maybe this will help, Passmark ratings. But, be sure to check the PSU ratings for the wattage as well as amps. If you have multiple rails, how much on each rail?
MonkeyFunkR is already running a 5870. According to www.sapphiretech.com, the PSU requirements are similar. (Something seems inconsistent there, based on the PCI-E connections. A high-end 7970 could be good for something less than 375W.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jan 2013   #4
essenbe
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 X64 (Windows 10, 8.1, Linux Mint, Windows XP and others in VM)
 
 

Their requirements are not clear to me. They recommend a 500W PSU for 1 card and 1 place says a 75W 6 pin connector is required for 1 card and later they say an 8 pin is required for a single card. I can only assume it requires both. Sapphire Vapor X 3GB.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jan 2013   #5
GeneO

Windows 7 64 bit SP1. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot.
 
 

There are many review sites that measure the power consumption of cards under load or at least the total system power consumption under graphics load. Most measure the power at the wall circuit, so don't take into account PSU efficiency, which leaves you to make a guess of the efficiency to use to calculate how much power the PSU itself will draw. Other sites also measure power draw under a graphics intensive load like furmark stress test, then also at idle. They then subtract the idle and say that is the graphics card power. They have made a miscalculation however. The stress test program driving the graphics also uses more CPU power so what they are really reporting is the graphics power + this additional CPU power, which you again have to make a guess at. For instance, when I test graphics power consumption, I find furmark generates about 35W in CPU power (calculated by Realtemp).

I like the site linked below for video card reviews because they measure the power delivered by the PSU to the PCI-E bus so they are really measuring only the power the PSU delivers to the graphics card. The link is their results for the 7970 reference card (they have reviews for many of the non-reference 7970 cards out there too if you want to get specific):

AMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB Review | techPowerUp

The bottom line is under furmark stress the card drew 270W maximum (furmark) and 189W peak (crysis 2).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jan 2013   #6
Bungee18

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Hi MonkeyFunkR,
Check this tool out, it allows you to compare any modern card out there. Here's the comparison between the 7850 and 7870.
AnandTech - Bench - GPU12
IMO the 7870 is not much better than the 7850 and not worth the extra money.
The 7970 is a different story. If your PSU and budget can handle it, go for it.
Here's a nice tool to calculate what your PSU can handle:
eXtreme Power Supply Calculator

I just got a second 7850 myself and I'm very happy with them.
Hope this helps.
Cheers,

J
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jan 2013   #7
MonkeyFunkR

Windows 7 Premium x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by essenbe View Post
1st thing is what PSU do you have and will it handle the power requirements of the cards. Then it comes down to what you're willing to spend and what you want. I don't have any of them, but the number tells which is the best. The 7970 is the fastest of the bunch. Maybe this will help, Passmark ratings. But, be sure to check the PSU ratings for the wattage as well as amps. If you have multiple rails, how much on each rail?
This is embarrassing, but what do you mean by rails? As for my PSU I have a 800W unit.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by essenbe View Post
Their requirements are not clear to me. They recommend a 500W PSU for 1 card and 1 place says a 75W 6 pin connector is required for 1 card and later they say an 8 pin is required for a single card. I can only assume it requires both. Sapphire Vapor X 3GB.
The official AMD site does recommend that both be used. I haven't examined my rig close enough to know for sure how the 5870 is hooked up. I will check when I have a chance.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Bungee18 View Post
Hi MonkeyFunkR,
Check this tool out, it allows you to compare any modern card out there. Here's the comparison between the 7850 and 7870.
AnandTech - Bench - GPU12
IMO the 7870 is not much better than the 7850 and not worth the extra money.
The 7970 is a different story. If your PSU and budget can handle it, go for it.
Here's a nice tool to calculate what your PSU can handle:
eXtreme Power Supply Calculator

I just got a second 7850 myself and I'm very happy with them.
Hope this helps.
Cheers,

J
I am leaning more towards the 7870.

Does it really matter which brand card I get? I had assumed it was simply an AMD branded card. I'm guessing they make the tech. My local Best Buy offers two different brands. Diamond and GIGABYTE. Newegg offers even more brands. Is there a huge difference nowadays?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jan 2013   #8
Bungee18

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

There is a big difference between brands, even when comparing reference cards. Main differences are cooling solutions, factory OC, OC headroom...
If available I would get either an MSI (Twin Frozr or Power Edition) or an ASUS (the dual cooler model, think it is called DirectCu II). Sapphire is OK. If I were you I would avoid PowerColor, Elite Group and Diamond. Gigabyte is OK, but quality and performance does not compare to that of their mobos.
Once again: check the benchmarks I linked. Anandtech is one of the most serious reviewers and benchmarkers out there. IMO the performance gap between the 7850 and the 7870 doesn't justify the price premium. I would go either with the 7850 or the 7970.
No matter which way you go, now that drivers are becoming a lot better, you are in for a huge treat!
Cheers,

J
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jan 2013   #9
essenbe
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 X64 (Windows 10, 8.1, Linux Mint, Windows XP and others in VM)
 
 

Bungee is right. There can be a big difference. AMD makes the specs of the cards, but the manufacturers adapt the specs to their design and there can be a big difference in the quality of construction. I would look on Newegg at the card I am intrested in and closely read the user reviews. You don't have to buy from them, but they sell a bunch of parts and usually have the most reviews on the net. They are an excellent resource for user reviews. After all, the most important thing is that it works and works well. I will disagree with him on Gigabyte cards. I have had a Gigabyte 6950 for over a year and it works very well and runs very cool and will play any game out at high settings.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jan 2013   #10
MonkeyFunkR

Windows 7 Premium x64
 
 

Thanks Bungee and essenbe!! I'm checking out the reviews and pricing on the MSI Twin Frozr versions now. I've found a couple sales and I might be buying earlier than I planned. Thank you both for your help. It's much appreciated.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Upgrade advice: HD7870Ghz, HD7850 or HD7970?




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